If it wasn’t already clear that cybersecurity has become one of government’s top concerns, Monday’s announcement that the state of Arizona has formed a new Cyber Command Center to combat digital attacks should remove any doubt. Gov. Doug Ducey’s office announced this week that the new Cyber Command Center would help law enforcement coordinate statewide cybersecurity operations.
The announcement comes at a time when state and local governments are under constant threat from stealthy online attackers.
It’s an important development to be sure, but the Cyber Command Center doesn’t appear to go far enough in protecting Arizona residents. Local governments such as cities and towns, school districts and fire districts, tribal authorities and community college systems, each have to manage their own cybersecurity programs. It’s an undertaking that is notoriously expensive and time-consuming, and small, cash-strapped agencies may not have the resources required to respond to a massive cyberattack, much less be proactive about preventing them in the first place.
Usually the attacks are annoying and disruptive. But they have the potential to be costly —and potentially deadly. In some places, attackers have targeted important infrastructure such as drinking water supplies. School districts across the country last year were forced to cancel online classes because of ransomware attacks.
Notably, the City of Kingman suffered a massive cyber attack just a few months ago in an incident that shut down much of the city government’s ability to communicate and in some cases, perform necessary functions. An investigation into the attack later revealed that up to 200 residents had their personal information breached, but cybersecurity specialists hired by the city could not figure out how the city’s systems were breached.
It was made clear through News-Herald reporting that Lake Havasu City isn’t adequately prepared if something similar were to occur here.
The state’s new Cyber Command Center ought to take the lead on this, providing security guidance and resources to small communities and local government agencies, to ensure that our data is safe and our cities can function. Our cities shouldn’t have to go it alone on cyber security.
— Today’s News-Herald